Posts Tagged ‘A Random Drop Inn’

A Random Drop Inn: Doyles

Credit to flickr user FungeP

This place has always been a sort of unofficial Trinity student bar. It is a favourite post college boozer of the Trinity faithful, or in some cases a favourite between lectures haven. Downstairs is cozy, often quiet and the Guinness good. Upstairs? I’ve not been in a while. The night before Halloween seems as good a night as any to visit.

Am I boring? Far from it I would hope. I’m in the minority here tonight though. All around me I spot costumes, ranging from Dr. House (It’s Not Lupus!) to Super Mario. I’m in my civies, feeling a little left out as even the barmen have made the effort. A signboard behind the bar shows the drink ‘specials’. €4 a Miller? Is that a ‘special’? We’re in a pub remember, not a nightclub. It’s all a bit steep.

The DJ is knocking out 80s and 70s classics for the most part, to a room in which nobody seems to have been born before 1989. One of those all time classics, Safety Dance, has the place shaking.

What a song in fairness. I’ve been patiently waiting for any chance to somehow work that into a Come Here To Me post. I can retire happy now.

Anyway, the DJ. It’s not doing much for me. I’d stop short of ‘doing a Morrissey’ and leading a chorus of Hang The DJ, but it feels like a wedding anniversary in a GAA club and we’re all too young to remember these tunes really. The crowd is very nice and mingle among each other (rare to see these days sadly) and there are no airs and graces about the place, but it doesn’t do much for me. After another Miller, we’re off in a taxi for The Button Factory.

Downstairs remains one of my favourite spots for a cheeky pint, and I can’t conclude this piece without giving a shout out to what have to be among the soundest doormen in Dublin (no airs and graces comes to mind again….), but upstairs feels like a pub attempting to be a nightclub. Stick to the plain downstairs and you’ll be fine.

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A certain northsider gives me hope. The ode to Damien Dempsey on the side of The Good Bits may be gone, but The Good Bits itself seems here to stay. No small achievement in this part of the city, where this premises has become the Dublin pub equivalent of ‘that house on the corner’. People seemed to move in and out of here all the time.

I’ve been here before, a few times. Down in the cave, where the music is thumping and the place is busy. We review pubs on this site, and not nightclubs, so that aspect of the place doesn’t count to us purists. I’m here to see what kind of pub The Good Bits makes. I had planned to include this on my last pub crawl, only to be met by the sight you fear most before your pub crawl departs. A ‘CLOSED’ sign.

Firstly, there is much more than a new name to this place. A lot of thought has gone into the interior. You forget details like this when you’ve been into a packed nightclub, and so you need to see the place again in a new light. I’d popped in Friday briefly to collect something and decided that was my lunch hour sorted for the next day, purely on liking the look of the place.

The lunch offers are good, a nice range of tapas options joined by a few standards. I’m racing the clock so wolf down a steak sambo with a pint, and both get high marks. The staff are bang on, attentive and friendly. My lunch hour consists of me rushing in the door of somewhere and ordering before I’ve sat down, but they’re understanding. The Guinness lives up to the reputation, as a few people had told me it was a good bet during the day. As a rule I don’t order Guinness in any nightclub environment, but to call The Good Bits a nightclub is doing a disservice to its qualities as a pub.

I throw a quick eye about and while the decor is quite minimalist, it works. Despite being here for quite a while now too (I dare say longer than some previous tenants!) the place is not at all showing any wear or tear. As a rule of thumb I never state why we’re looking around a boozer, but a member of staff asks me if I’ve not been before and we strike up a quick conversation on the place and how it has met the challenges of location, being just a tad outside the main ‘night club’ part of town. It looks as fresh as the first I entered it. The crowd during the day seem a good bit older than the night owls unsurprisingly, I get the impression I’m not the only one on a lunch break.

Any complaints? Not really, just get someone to give the front a lick of paint again. The Good Bits Gives Me Hope for Store Street, let’s hope she sticks around.

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The market workers of Dublin and others like them knew a very different city from the average worker in the capital today. Before the first bus even rolls through the suburbs now, these workers were often at the end of their workday. Early house pubs opened their doors from about 7am, and it wasn’t unusual to spot a mix of tired workers and those returning from more enjoyable nights in the capital seizing the opportunity presented for a pint.

Alas, the fruit markets are no more in all truth. The docks are quieter now too. Yet Dublin retains a few early house pubs dotted around the city, and this suggests business remained strong long after the shutters came down on some markets for the last time. Amazingly, I’ve never been to one. A 2008 Irish Times report suggested 15 such pubs remain in the capital. Since 1962, no new pubs have been added to the list. They’re a dying breed.

The Chancery.

The Chancery is located right by the Four Courts. By sheer coincidence, we’re coming to it from the direction of Smithfield, an area much changed since the time the markets flourished there. Beautiful apartment complexes, an art-house cinema and the sort dot Smithfield today. The Cobblestone remains, the horses long gone.

Arriving at the door of The Chancery at the early hour of 8am, the first thing you notice are two bouncers on the door. While at first one can be worried by the sight of a bouncer, on second thoughts it can be reassuring. They keep an eye on proceedings, but there is no trouble in the time we’re here. We pass them on the way in, give ‘the nod’, and with it clear we’re in decent condition on entering the place, we don’t hear/see them again, until ‘the nod’ is given again on the way out.

The pints of Guinness are more than decent, and we remark that it’s interesting they can pull a decent pint here at 8am when we’ve seen ‘one pour pints’ chucked out in fancier boozers across the city on Friday nights. On the subject of Friday nights, there appear to be a few other survivors dotted around this place. The milkman? The market worker? No sign of them but.

The ‘locals’, or the people sitting across the bar talking to the barman and each other, are a mixed bunch. With the sun up, this might as well be 3pm in any Dublin pub. One annoyance that hits you on entering the place however is the jukebox. Is there a need for a jukebox to be blaring music at half eight in the morning?

I’m gonna send him to outer space. To find another race.
I’m gonna send him to outer space. To find another race.

I love the song too, but it’s half eight in the morning. Turn it down, or turn it off. The arrival of The Wild Rover leads one of our party to a semi-audible “for fucks sake…” that thankfully goes unnoticed. Somewhere in the world it’s a suitable time to play this stuff, lets be quiet and drink to them.

The early house is clean, and the pubs layout is perfectly fine. What surprises me is the number of people here. I remember a friend telling me you could never open a Wetherspoons in Ireland because “we can’t be trusted to drink sensibly”. Maybe there’s an element of truth in that. In the time we’re here, with the exception of one eejit and his unwanted and unimpressive rendition of ‘The Boys Of The Old Brigade’, we see nothing too out of the ordinary or worrying. We even remark a return visit in the future isn’t an impossible scenario.

So, who does drink at 8am? A much more varied bunch than I expected. On leaving, we do a quick turn and head towards town, and I spot people getting off the 25A bus for work. Getting on the same bus home, there is a distinct lack of market workers, milkmen or dockers. The Chancery is not going to make its way into any ‘Top 50 Pubs In Dublin’ list, and it’s not brimming with the sort of unique character that does see pubs make such lists, but it’s not the hellish boozer some may think looking down on it from the double-decker bus to work. Judging on the crowd inside it, at a time I wouldn’t normally have risen yet, it’ll be here a while longer yet.

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The Workman's Club is right next door to The Clarence.

These are brave times to open a pub.

When I heard the site of the old Workman’s Club on the quays was to become the home of a new boozer, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve always had a soft spot for Workman’s Clubs (The one in Inchicore comes to mind, is it the last on the go?), and have drank in a few ‘across the water’. On the wall by the bar here, an old relic of the Workman’s Club survives, informing members of the need to get the £40 membership in as quickly as possible.

It’s not a wall but, as I thought, but rather a door that opens up to reveal a large stage area, where gigs will soon be taking place (look out for the Hard Working Class Heroes Festival, long-established in the city). Like the bar, the design is minimalist. With the exception of a piano and a few candles, the bar is a straight up tables and chairs affair. I’m happy to see the piano works/

I mistake an old couple in the corner for lost tourists. Rather, they turn out to be old punters of the actual Workman’s Club, and they are full of questions for the bar staff. At our table, the lads are all happy with the Guinness, Ciaran in particular. On first sip, it is unfaultable. The music here is well within the indie school of rock, ranging from Lykke Li to The Clash in the time we’re here.

I venture upstairs. The view looks down over the Liffey, and the upstairs has a design completely unlike that downstairs, opting for a purple look and decorated with art and snaps by Dublin artists and photographers. There’s plenty of room for dancing, and an open window (soon to go, apparently) allows a glance out at what will hopefully become a smoking area. It’s sizable, and you can just peak at Essex Street in Temple Bar from here.

Being a Sunday, we were soon off to Pygmalion for half price drinks, but on first glance this one is a winner. The lovely brick work front of the pub looks great and it’s nice to see one of the buildings in the city I can’t recall seeing used in donkeys years find a purpose. It’s simple, pretty cool without trying too hard and the Guinness (€4.50 a pint) is thumbs up. The music is right up my street, and the place is a welcome addition.

Shame about the neighbours.

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Two very different Kennedy's, one premises.

It’s like a song by the Beach Boys out here today, we’re melting.

It’s all Topshop girls and Choc Ice’s up in Merrion Square, and it’s very hard work altogether. We’re into the inevitable waiting game now, when two people want to hit the pub but both know it might be slightly too early in the day to do so. I give in.

“Shall we go for a….
Brilliant idea

Great, that was easy. From here, we either move towards Foley’s, Doheny and Nesbitt or Kennedy’s. I call Kennedy’s, purely on the grounds of long time no see.

The bar is lovely and quite old fashioned. The first thing that grabs your eye on entering is a picture of Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde himself, who was born only around the corner. There are a few people around the bar grabbing an early lunch, and we order two pints, over the sound of the vuvuzela. I will always remember this summer as the summer of that irritating object. The telly isn’t too loud, but the vuvuzela is. Come to think of it, did ANYONE know what a vuvuzela was last month?

We grab two seats, and only then notice the ‘Pull your own pint’ set-up at the table. I hate, hate, hate the introduction of these things to Dublin pubs, but even some of the best have succumbed to them. In fairness, I can’t spot any more of them about. The pints from the bar are excellent, and we both comment on the quality of the pint. I don’t know why anyone would go for the vending machine option, but you never know with people I suppose. A map of Dublin from the 1700’s stands out on the walls, which are free of tacky rubbish.

So, all this has the feel of a lovely and quiet-enough-except-when-the-World-Cup-happens-in-Africa city centre pub, no? The place is well known as a Trinity College haunt, and it really does feel a bit like a ‘Sunday with a book’ haunt, and that is no bad thing. There’s more to the place but, much more downstairs.

‘The Underground’, is miles removed from the quiet boozer upstairs. It’s home to a music venue that hosts everything electronic and does things a little bit noisy.The door-tax is normally a fiver, but you can always pop back upstairs. Things move slower there, and the noise is (normally) that of chat alone.

We live a nice barman, two empty pint glasses and that sound behind us, and continue on. To the next pub.

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Bit busier than this these days.

A bit unlike any other pub I’ve visited over the course of this experiment, in that you’re normally out the door when you’re spotted with cans (not that Come Here To Me engage in that sort of carry-out carry on.) Here, they’re on sale, and students are lashing into the Bavaria like it’s going out of style. In this heat, I’m going for the Bulmers, so I’ll order a pint.

Steep enough. Our maybe it’s not, my own Student Union pub in Maynooth don’t sell cans, so the booze flows cheaply. I suppose they’re balancing the books here. Lesson learned, and I’ll transfer over to the cans with the masses of pretend TCD students from here on in.

The staff are friendly and have their wits about them, amazing owing to the mix of intense heat (by eh, ‘Irish standards’) and a line of students longer than any library will ever see.

Ernie O’ Malley wrote about Trinners in his excellent, highly entertaining ‘On Another Man’s Wound’

Trinity had been founded by Queen Elizabeth, and had been built and maintained mainly on confiscated Irish lands. Its tone had always been anti-Irish, arrogantly pro-British, and it had always linked itself to Dublin Castle. The students all wore their college ties, black and red, carried themselves with a swagger and seemed very pleased with life in general.


By pure chance, I end up in the company of a few friends on the green outside, and we sit in the sun, drinking away from the cricket pitch (Them’s the rules…) and discussing that very book.

There’s little you wouldn’t discuss out here, with the sun beating down on you and the booze cheap, it’s a perfect summer evening. Inside, ‘The Pav’ seems to have changed since my last visit, and it’s looking very well. The Sports Bar of the campus, the benches by the doors to the bar go quickly on a nice day. ‘The football’ was on the telly inside, fair enough with the whole Sports Bar thing really. The profits of the pub go back into the sports facilities apparently, meaning you really should buy your cans from the bar and not do a cheeky one. In fairness, it’s one of the only spots in Dublin you’ll get away with drinking cans.

Sit out in the sun , grab a can and watch The Topshop’s go by.

What would Ernie think of us?

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This graveyard hides a million secrets.
And the trees know more than they can tell.
The ghosts of the saints and scholars will haunt you
In Heaven and in Hell.

We’re fresh out of the brand new Museum at Glasnevin Cemetery, and much has been learned. It’s great, if you’re wondering.

The history of Glasnevin Cemetery is well known. It is, in popular Irish history, associated with many legends and great figures. Yet there is more to the place than that, there is also the history of ordinary people and communities. In fact, for all the talk of ‘The Liberator’, liberation struggles and more besides, it is perhaps the audio interviews with gravediggers who worked at the cemetery that was most captivating. Suitably enough, the interview was conducted over a pint in the Gravediggers pub next door.

I’d only done the excellent walking tour of the graveyard recently, and not having seen my mate in a while we decided a pint was in order. The timeless, tellyless (Publicans, take note) Gravediggers on the edge of the cemetery is one of my favourite boozers in Dublin, but you can’t ‘Randomly Drop Inn’ twice, now can you?

So, where to?

We settle for The Porterhouse. This decision is largely based on the reputation of their Chocolate Stout.

“No Chocolate Stout lads, not doing that anymore”

Hmm, bad start. I opt for the Plain (a pint of Plain, clever that) stout, and the mate goes for Oyster stout. Food is ordered, seats are taken, and we have a look around. The premises is large and spacious, the music not too loud (bit of Smokey Robinson going on…), and the food arrives quick. No food for me, but the reports were good. I’ve heard great things about the Irish Stew, but who am I to spend money when there’s dinner at home. Students, we’re like that.

The pint of Plain? Not quite your only man, but still a damn good light stout and I’m content. I’ve tried the Oyster stout before too and while it takes some getting used to, it’s a grower. As they’re quick and proud to tell you, these are award winners, and unlike in some Dublin pubs with the more famous stout on offer, you can rest assured each pint will be right here.

The smoking area is sizeable, but I’m not one to stand around smoking areas. It’s large, it’s covered and it’s heated. Three boxes ticked if you’re that way inclined. The staff are friendly and talkative, and seem to be engaged with what sound like regulars. My friend picks up on the menu in front of us, which boasts that “Our beer kills fascists”. Not entirely sure what they’re getting at there, but why the hell not.

The place is quiet enough, though it is 4.30 on a Wednesday. A few large screens around the place and the variety of both booze and grub makes me think this wouldn’t be a bad spot to catch a bit of the World Cup.

The Porterhouse, for what it does, isn’t too pricey. It’s worth a venture to any of the Dublin pubs to try something new, but be warned that the two city centre pubs are tourist hubs at the minute. A worthwhile visit, with a ‘we’ll only be 10 minutes’ trip turning into an hour out of nowhere.

On our way out, we pass a Christmas tree of beer bottles.

Bit late for that, or are they just early?

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